A senior member of the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers … Click to Continue »
It’s Tuesday, February 18.In today’s newsletter: Why the coronavirus outbreak could bring out the worst in Trump. Plus: Is Bernie Sanders as polarizing as elite Democrats claim he is?
« TODAY IN POLITICS »
(HAPPY TOGETHER / SHUTTERSTOCK / ARSH RAZIUDDIN / THE ATLANTIC)
The Trump administration isn’t ready for the coronavirus.
The outbreak of COVID-19, as the illness is now called, has thrown the world into panic. But if it spreads across the U.S., it could bring out the worst in President Donald Trump, who on top of a tendency to prefer his own instincts to the advice of experts, is famously a germaphobe.
Empathy may be a casualty of Trump’s own phobias: He is squeamish about contagion. A body man traveling with him would make sure that two implements were always in his possession: a Sharpie for autographs and hand sanitizer for germs, said a former White House official, who like others I talked with for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity. Aides would try to suppress coughs in his presence. If they couldn’t stifle repeated sneezes, Trump might order them to leave his presence. “He never said, ‘Go home.’ He just didn’t want them anywhere near him,” the ex-official told me.
When an Ebola epidemic struck in 2014, Trump was unnerved. For months, he sent dire messages with a common theme: Keep the virus out of the U.S. at all costs.
Would a quarantine of the scale China is implementing now—extended beyond the Wuhan epicenter to more than 50 million elsewhere in China—be possible in the U.S.?
A legal mess would certainly result, Polly Price, a global health professor, writes:
The average American may be surprised to learn who holds the authority to order such public-health measures. Except at the nation’s borders, the federal government, with the expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is not in charge. America’s defense against epidemics is divided among 2,684 state, local, and tribal public-health departments. Each one is responsible for monitoring people within its jurisdiction, imposing isolation or quarantine as needed. CDC officials are “preparing as if [the new coronavirus] is the next pandemic,” but in reality, the laboring oar falls to state and local health departments.
1. “Indeed, given our national faith and trust in a rule of law no one can subvert, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American.”
Attorney General Barr is placing the president above the law, the former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer, who preceded Barr in the George H. W. Bush administration, writes. His argument comes amid a forceful public letter signed by now more than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials (including Ayer) calling on Barr to resign.
2. “He sparks less opposition—in some cases far less—than his major competitors ... So why all the talk of civil war?”
“Nobody likes” him, Hillary Clinton even declared last month of her 2016 primary rival. But that’s true only among a certain stratum of Democrats, Peter Beinart argues: The Democratic elite are afraid of the party schism that a Bernie Sanders victory could cause, but Democratic voters are far less hesitant about the democratic-socialist candidate. In fact, Sanders may be one of the least polarizing among ordinary voters.
3. “If past is prologue, Trump will say absolutely anything necessary to attract and maintain support, including patent untruths …. How can Democrats run against a candidate who will simply deny his unpopular positions and make up nonexistent accomplishments?”
The real electability challenge for the 2020 Democratic nominee is their ability to run against a president “seemingly prepared, and empowered, to lie and cheat his way to reelection,” Sarada Peri, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, argues. So what can the candidates going toe-to-toe with Trump do?
« EVENING READ »
(LEON NEAL / GETTY / KATIE MARTIN / THE ATLANTIC)
The New Cold War
If the Trump administration is truly going all-in on competition with Beijing, it’s not clear that Trump himself is fully on board. Nor, it’s now clear, are several of America’s closest friends. Uri Friedman writes:
In the contest between the United States and China over who gets to shape the world in the coming century, America seems to be playing to win. But it’s running into a big problem. Despite the global network of alliances Washington has built up, it’s been unable to convince those allies to hop aboard the “great-power-competition” express and leave China behind.
The Federal Reserve is "closely monitoring" the escalating coronavirus outbreak but it is still too soon to gauge if it would require a change in monetary policy, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said on Tuesday as the central bank continues to patiently monitor the impact of the epidemic on the U.S. economy.
Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse and other investment banks have curbed trips to Italy amid fears that the coronavirus outbreak across the north of the country could quickly spread across Europe, sources said.
Only five states can detect virus after testing kits found to be faulty – but Trump claims coronavirus ‘is going to go away’
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could cause “severe disruption” to the lives of ordinary Americans, and urged families and communities to start making preparations.
The extent of the spread of the virus in the US is uncertain, as the CDC stopped the distribution of coronavirus testing kits after they were found to be flawed. Working testing kits are now available in only a handful of states, and it is not clear when new kits will be ready.
With people trapped indoors, online activity of all sorts – funny, inspiring, government sanctioned and not – has bloomed
In many ways, the coronavirus outbreak in China has been one big social experiment, testing the thesis: what happens when an entire country goes into hibernation for weeks?
Since the outbreak was officially announced more than a month ago, less than one-third of China’s 300 million migrant workers have returned to work a fortnight after the lunar new year break; 270 million children, according to China’s official news agency, are staying home as schools remain shut throughout China.
The coronavirus outbreak, has been disrupting the sporting calendar in Asia for some time, but now it's affecting Italian football. German sports officials say they are closely monitoring the situation.
As restrictive measures are being enforced in northern Italy to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Italy edges toward recession. But its ability to service its debt is not at risk, as Sergio Matalucci reports from Milan.
The coronavirus outbreak in China has come down hard on the country's poor who cannot afford to be quarantined, have less access to supplies, and do not have the money or the connections to leave the country.
Chinese firms are rushing to invoke force majeure – or an unforeseeable act of God – to shield themselves from contract obligations they cannot meet because of the coronavirus outbreak, but many may be unsuccessful in their efforts, lawyers and experts said.A government-backed agency issued more than 3,000 certificates to Chinese companies in the first three weeks of February certifying that they were victims of unexpected external circumstances that prevented them from fulfilling contracts…
Hong Kong’s coronavirus outbreak has brought a steep fall in January passenger numbers for a city rail operator already battered by months of anti-government unrest, with observers warning of even more hard times ahead.According to the latest figures from the MTR Corporation, ridership on domestic services was 116.5 million in January, down 21 per cent year on year.Its high-speed link to mainland China recorded the biggest drop in traveller numbers – down almost 40 per cent to 1.05 million,…
China’s economic recovery amid the coronavirus outbreak has likely been overstated as data only covers larger companies and excludes the vast majority of the smaller workshops and manufacturers.Authorities have responded to calls from President Xi Jinping to restore China’s economic and social activity to pre-coronavirus levels by publishing a new indicator on the ratio of production that has resumed operation.On Monday, National Development and Reform Commission spokesman Cong Liang said that…
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he does not expect the coronavirus outbreak to have a material impact on the phase one US-China trade deal, although that could change as more data becomes available in coming weeks.Finance officials from the world’s 20 largest economies said on Sunday they would keep a close watch on the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, but stopped short of identifying it as downside risk to the global economy.Fears of a coronavirus pandemic mounted even as the…
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike hit back on Friday at a candidate to be London mayor who offered to host this year’s Olympics due to the coronavirus epidemic affecting Japan.“London can host the Olympics in 2020. We have the infrastructure and the experience. And due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world might need us to step up,” tweeted Shaun Bailey.“As mayor, I will make sure London is ready to answer the call and host the Olympics again,” he added. London has hosted the Games in 2012, 1948 and…
Iran has taken drastic measures to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, ordering the closure of schools, universities and cultural centres across 14 provinces from Sunday following eight deaths in the Islamic Republic – the most outside East Asia and the first in the Middle East.Iran’s outbreak surfaced on Wednesday and has quickly worsened with 43 cases confirmed.“The concern is … that we have seen … a very rapid increase (in Iran) in a matter of a few days,” said Sylvie Briand, director of…
Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, announced Sunday that it will impose tough new travel restrictions on all residents in the province to stop the spread of the disease.Under the new rules, all businesses will close and the province’s 58 million people will not be able to leave their residential community or village.No vehicles or visitors should be allowed into any residential community or villages unless “necessary”.Hubei has also banned all vehicles from the…
First it was residual anti-mainland sentiment from a fiercely fought presidential election in January.Now disagreement between Beijing and Taipei over the repatriation of Taiwanese from the epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak is piling pressure on already strained relations across the Taiwan Strait.Analysts said that failure to resolve such disputes could turn stalemate into confrontation, with Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, winning a second four…
Companies face increased difficulties in launching IPOs as securities watchdogs and stock exchanges step up scrutiny of applications, demanding candidates to clarify the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak on their operations, according to financial advisers and lawyers.The regulators were being very cautious because they need to protect the interest of investors, said Wilson Chow, global TMT [telecom, media and technology] industry leader at professional services firm PwC.“Therefore,…
Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, is dangling big bonuses to lure new workers after its factories in China were shut down during the coronavirus outbreak, according to local reports.The Taiwanese company – which is the main assembler of iPhones – had to delay the reopening of its factories until after the Lunar New Year holiday as part of efforts to contain the outbreak.It said last Thursday that it would “cautiously” resume output at its main factories…